Los Campesinos! @ The Leadmill 31/03/12
Here's a fact for you: Los Campesinos! roughly translates as ‘The Peasants’ (cheers Google Translate), which is quite apt when you consider their work-rate is probably comparable to that of a rural Spanish villager who earns his corn wheeling oranges to market every day; and as four albums and a couple of EPs in three and half years can attest, that’s a heavy barrow of oranges.
Tonight is the last date on the UK leg of the band’s tour, and ‘By Your Hand’ launches them into a performance that’s evidently been polished over the course of the last fortnight, but these songs convey so much energy on record anyway that they still pack plenty of raw thrill despite the fine-tuning process. ‘Romance is Boring’ is played at a frenetic pace, whilst ‘Death to Los Campesinos!’ remains arguably their finest hour. All the time, frontman Gareth plays the puppet-master, sparking a crowd-wide scramble to imitate his gestures as he acts out the lyrics with his digits. It sounds bizarre and gimmicky when put to paper, but tonight he has us all on strings, culminating in every voice in the crowd bellowing “I HOPE MY HEART GOES FIRST!” during an intense and rousing rendition of ‘We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed’.
In fact, that intensity doesn’t let up for the rest of the gig; ‘Songs about Your Girlfriend’ and ‘Straight in at 101’ see the band almost transform into a pop-punk act, ‘Knee Deep at ATP’ and ‘Life Is a Long Time’ combine as a captivating double salvo, whilst ‘To Tundra’ is now officially Los Camp!’s first lighters-in-the-air fist pumper.
Then there’s that intro; it builds slowly, teasing you as it gets closer and closer, and you know it’s going to happen soon, that blissful release as ‘You! Me! Dancing!’ bursts into life, spreading a bout of hysteria through the crowd. Smut aside, the setlist tonight is testament to the astonishing quality and variety in Los Camp!’s back catalogue – absolutely nothing screams ‘filler’ – and by the time the 7 strong troupe are sharing mics and chanting along with the crowd to the final lines of ‘Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks’, they appear less like ‘Los Campesinos’, and more like ‘la adorada’.
Words by Lewis Parker